Cazart 1st Prize Winner: The Black Widow (Flash Fiction No.5)

Cazart Authors Anthology

I’m thrilled to say this story (below) won first prize in the June 2011 Cazart Flash Fiction awards and will be published in their anthology. You can buy the anthology here.



A silken web slips across my face as we emerge from the wood, dense with oak and scrub. I step out of the mass of mangled ivy curling round my ankles and stop, dead still, smoothing the back of my hand across my cheek. There’s nothing there. Jake gives me a look.

“Spider’s web,” I answer his unasked question, and a shiver shimmies up my spine.

“Hurry up!” he grumbles. “We’ll be late for tea,” and he charges on through the long grass to the velvet lawn.

I stand a moment, looking up at the Georgian house across the green expanse, watching the windows aligned in proud symmetry on its stone façade observe me with disdain. Inside, the chink of teaspoons on bone china would be punctuating the murmur of subdued chatter, and delicate pastries would be being served on three-tiered cake stands as a string trio sighs softly in a corner.

I can’t tell Jake about when I used to come here before – though Rory and I had been too nervous to cross the threshold of the hotel, too naïve even to ask if we might have tea. We were newly married and merely wandered in the wood and danced in dappled sunlight, while birdsong serenaded our lovemaking and the umber scent of trees and dark earth bound us tight together. We would laugh and dip our toes in the chill waters of the pond, hidden behind the banks of hawthorn and cow parsley, and roll in the long grass here on the edge of the wood. We were happy … for a while. But then the pain began. And then the poisonous tendrils of ivy twisted and turned and crept like a noose around his neck, stealing his breath, and his life. And it was over.

“Come on!” Jake yells impatiently from across the lawn. “I haven’t paid a fortune to stay in a first-rate hotel and get messed up by sodding weeds and mud!” He brushes his hands briskly over neatly pressed trousers. “You’re so weird! Why can’t you show some appreciation for God’s sake?”

I linger in the long grass a moment longer, casting a backward glance at the wood and the memories before stepping forward, promising I’d return. And bring Jake with me to weave a rope of woven ivy around his neck. Just like I did before.

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12 Responses to Cazart 1st Prize Winner: The Black Widow (Flash Fiction No.5)

  1. John Wiswell says:

    Equal parts mystical and quotidian, a total pleasure to read. I wonder if she’d lost her mind or if she were really reborn as some kind of nymph.

  2. Matt Merritt says:

    I love it when an author trusts the reader to fill in the rest of the story! Nice piece.

  3. marc nash says:

    oh what tangled webs we weave. Deftly told tale

  4. FARfetched says:

    Nice little PoV. Makes me wonder, does the glade speak to her, wanting the sacrifice, or is she simply a madwoman who reacts far out of proportion to slights and hurts?

  5. Debs Rickard says:

    Thank you, Matt and Marc. And Farfetched – I favour the latter. But who knows the footsteps to madness?

  6. ~Tim says:

    Subtle and creepy, like a vine. Nice.

  7. akweelife says:

    Hi. I really like this. I appreciate the mix of memory with present. You did that very well. Sometimes, it seems to me, people try so hard to delineate the memories from the now, the story gets choppy. But your writing is very smooth. The way you tell it, especially with such great descriptions of emotions, really draws me in.

  8. Debs Rickard says:

    Thank you very much Tim. And Akweelife – your remarks are very much appreciated. 🙂

  9. Rebecca Emin says:

    Wow, she’s a nasty piece of work isn’t isn’t she. Really well done. I actually felt sympathy for her when he said his bit about being “weird”. Turns out she didn’t deserve that after all. Love the way you twist it around.

  10. Chuck Allen says:

    I liked the subtle nuances in this one – the spider web, the house looking at her with disdain, etc. And I love the way you left so much untold. It let’s me keep playing with the story in my mind. Nice work!

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